63-year-old Former Engineer Jinichi Kawakami is Japan's 'Last Ninja'
August 22, 2012 | 4,396
The 63-year-old former engineer says he is the last living person to have learned all of the skills used by the spies and assassins of feudal Japan, NDTV reported.
"Ninjas proper no longer exist" outside of fiction and public demonstrations, Kawakami explained.
He is the 21st head of the Ban clan, a line of ninjas with a 500-year history.
He gave up engineering to teach ninjistu 10 years ago, despite the challenges of being a ninja master in the modern age.
Drawings of ninja tools and weapons still exist, Kawakami said, "but we don't always find all the details. Many of their traditions were passed on by word of mouth."
Another handicap: "We can't try out murder or poisons. Even if we can follow the instructions to make a poison, we can't try it out."
Kawakami's own training, which began when he was 6, encompassed non-deadly skills like chemistry and psychology.
"I was also required to endure heat and cold as well as pain and hunger," he recalled. "The training was all tough and painful. It wasn't fun but I didn't think much why I was doing it. Training was made to be part of my life."
Kawakami is studying ninja history at Mie University in Tsu, and doesn't plan to take on an apprentice who will become the 22nd head of his clan.
"Ninjas just don't fit in the modern day," he said.